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The best children’s poetry books this Christmas


From comic collections to classics, and even some Christmas-free selections for unfestive relief, here are our picks of the best holiday rhymes

There is a wonderful banquet of poetry books for children and their parents out this year, some more ruled by Yule than others and ranging from simple to sophisticated. The ubiquitous Carol Ann Duffy’s New and Collected Poems for Children (Faber £16.99) is a lovely book of entertaining, flowing rhymes with an especially enjoyable poem introducing us to Henrietta the Eighth who bumps off all her husbands (a welcome, if not a Christmassy, initiative). Duffy also oversees The 12 Poems of Christmas (Candlestick Press £4.95); a slim volume that could double as a glorified Christmas card (it comes with an envelope) for parents and literary teenagers, including an especially charming and now melancholy poem by the late Dannie Abse, entitled A New Diary, about the way life and friendships change.

Christmas Poems, chosen by Gaby Morgan, decorated by Axel Scheffler (Macmillan £5.99), is a frolicsome, uncontroversial, accessible bunch, merrily illustrated. It is particularly good to be reminded of UA Fanthorpe’s poem about Christmas, BC:AD, which funny and heartstopping: “And this was the moment/ When a few farm workers and three /Members of an obscure Persian sect/ Walked haphazard by starlight straight/ Into the Kingdom of Heaven.”

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